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Braintree 2 v Aldeburgh

9th December – Braintree

Result: Braintree 48 Aldeburgh 0

A soggy reality check

After the cold of last week, we had the soggy surface this week.  The rain held off in the afternoon which wasn’t too cold but the pitch was sodden, leaving the mud-soaked teams almost indistinguishable by the end.  Aldeburgh took fourteen players.  Braintree had a strong squad which they shared in the spirit of the Game On protocol.  Nevertheless, their big, strong running backs and powerful forwards were a level beyond Aldeburgh at this stage of our development.

With three tries scored, Braintree were 19 points up within the first ten minutes.  A combination of strong runs by big forwards, linking with speedy backs and making the most of the desperately wet conditions which made handling a nightmare led to quick tries. 

Even when Aldeburgh began to claw their way back into the game by working their way down the pitch, Braintree were quick to make use of the ball with a long kick, smart follow up and hack on to get their next try.

Despite the conditions and the strength of the opposition, the Aldeburgh players dug in to hold Braintree back for the rest of the half.  Unfortunately, on the stroke of half time, Braintree’s hulking inside centre received the ball from a scrum in their own half and ran through untouched to score under the posts.  A half time score of 31-0 in these conditions looked ominous.

The increasingly strong wind was behind Aldeburgh in the second half.  Ed Robson made good use of it to relieve the pressure by pushing play down field.  However after twelve minutes of the second half, a promising move from a line out broke down, Braintree scooped up the ball, moved it swiftly to their left wing who set off to run from his own 22 to score.

A couple of injuries – to Lewis Wardell Bird and Angus Mann – left Aldeburgh with three Braintree players in their ranks.  The subs played their part but it was obviously disruptive.  Nevertheless, the second half was competitive.  Aldeburgh didn’t look like making big inroads but they fought to keep Braintree out.

There were two more tries, similar in that they involved several phases of play which eventually opened gaps in the Aldeburgh defence.  Having shipped five tries in the first half, it was something of a success to concede only three in the second.  While it would be unfair to pick out individual players after such a gutsy, collective effort exception must be made for Callum Goodwin who had another excellent game in the centre both with ball in hand and as a disruptive tackler.  For older readers, he also brought to mind the iconic picture of Fran Cotton in the 1977 Lions tour of New Zealand.  If you don’t know it, search online to get a sense of what Callum looked like and what the rest of the team were experiencing.

One of the aims of these reports is to encourage VPs to come to watch matches.  I realise that by focusing on the appalling weather conditions, I may not be achieving this goal so let me finish by noting that after the match the players and spectators convened in the splendid Braintree club house to enjoy drinks, food (for the players) and good companionship which made the whole experience more than worthwhile for all. 

That was our last match before Christmas.  The first three in the new year are away matches so we are not playing at home again until 3rd February. 

Before then we have our Christmas party next Saturday evening in the clubhouse.  A bring and share supper with bar.  All are welcome.

If I don’t see you there (which may depend on the timing of the arrival of a new grandchild), have a happy Christmas and a splendid new year.


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